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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    December 10, 2012
    9:00 - 9:59am PST  

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it's monday, december 10th, and this is "now." >> joining me today making television history together, jonathan chait of new york making sfwleen, and editor of the new republic franklin ford together for the first time. margaret carlson, of bloomberg news is here, and msnbc contributor and former rnc chairman the notorious michael steele. in a few minutes president obama will land in michigan where he will begin touring and delivering a speemp at an engine manufacturing plant. it is the next stop on the great reasonableness tour of 2012 calling for tax hikes on the rich and meeting with working class, ordinary americans rather than beltway politicians. behind closed doors the occasionally unreasonable fiscal negotiations continue. the president met with house speaker john boehner at the white house on sunday, though aides from both sides kept mum on the details of their discussions. a new poll by politico and
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george washington university shows that three in five americans back raising taxes on the wealthy, which echos the results from election day and a washington post-abc news poll released recently. in the meantime, some on the right seem to have come to terms with the inevitable, including former republican senator alan simps simpson. >> if anybody out there that is "rich" doesn't think their taxes are going up, the drink is on me. >> even with reality from some in his own corner, john boehner is facing mutany. aircraft erickson tweeted out how can you fire speaker boehner. linking to a letter encouraging readers to pressure their congress members to block boehner's re-election to the speakership. boehner is also catching flack for ahs ousting idealogical conservative members from the top gop house committees. >> it's a slap in the face of all young people who are out there thinking about being republicans, want to be part of this party, and are being told,
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well, if you disagree with leadership, just a couple times, we're going to second you home. we're going to tell you are off the committee. you don't get to participate. >> as the speaker fendz off arrows from members of his party, both inside and outside the capitol dome, maybe, just maybe, all the attacks will ultimately bring boehner and the president closer to inking a deal. >> even at the hint that the taxes might be raised on his leadership watch, they turned on him. tell them what you found in your office desk. >> no, i don't want to. >> no, go ahead. hey, tell them what your so-called friends put in your office desk. >> it was a rubber snake. >> a rubber snake. did it scare you? >> it did. >> republicans, you win. okay? you get what you want, but you leave this man alone. you leave this poor, orange man alo alone. >> michael steele, chairman. did you have ever a rubber snake put in your desk when you made overtures of bipartisanship?
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>> i had more than rubber snakes. trust me. a lot of pink slips. >> you see a little sympathy perhaps for john boehner. leave this poor orange man alone. >> boehner is the guy who can cut this deal if he is given the latitude to negotiate it, and the problem is he recognizes that he is in a little bit of a box. he has the election results on the one side. then on the other end and reality it's a wall. he has his caucus that is very determined. the "wall street journal" reflected,ty think, appropriately the concern that a lot of those republicans have about giving away the store. you know? why are we giving the president so much and not getting anything in return? that is the biggest fear. i think boehner, if allowed to just be in the room with the president to negotiate the deal that he can take back to his caucus, can get this done, but he has to deal with the politics, and people calling for his resignation, how to fire boehner. i can't think of anything more stupid. >> or less productive.
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>> less productive, and tying his hands in a negotiation when he cannot even get in the room to talk because he has people yapping at his heels that have no idea what it takes to get this done, who don't recognize that they lost an election because the american people resoundingly said your stuff stinks, we don't want it. we want another brand. if you come up with a better brand, we'll talk to you, but until then, we're working with the people who want to get the level of compromise in place that needs to be put in place. i think everybody just needs to cool their jets, let us get ready to deal with the realities of new taxes that are coming on-line because of health care. the fiscal cliff issues, et cetera. let the speaker do what the speaker does best, and that's negotiate his deal. >> the other michael steele, in this town, which is to say speaker boehner, one of his spokes people, released this tidbit of information, and i stress the word tidbit because it is ever so small. discussions with the white house are taking place, but we have no detail to share about the substance of those
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conversations. the republican offer made last week remains a republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the balanced approach he promised the american people. when they are in a room together, do they stare at each other and not talk? presumably like some words are communicated and there is some ball moving somewhere if not forward then to the side? >> i'm going to twitch my eye a little bit. you're going to have to guess which entitlement i'm talking about. i think that's the case. i mean, it seems like part of the boehner strategy is he is just kind of sitting around waiting for some sort of organic political tide to carry him into a place where he has more room to negotiate. he is waiting for the corkers and everybody else to start to flip out over the fact that there's no reversing these upper rate tax hikes, and defense spending is going to get cut. as john has called it, it's really a jestopian scenario for republicans, and it's going to -- they're awakening to this fact, and it's belated, and as it happens, it doesn't
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necessarily increase his hand any. >> well, let's mention, bob corker. let's take a listen to what he said. he is also -- i mean, you're hearing more about the debt ceiling, which seems to be -- if republicans have any leverage going into the next six months, that would seem to be it. let's hear what bob corker had to say. >> a lot of people are putting forth a theory, and i actually think it has merit where you go in and give the president the 2% increase that he is talking about, the rate increase on the top 2%. republicans know that they have the debt ceiling that's coming up right around the corner, and the leverage is going to shift as soon as we get beyond this issue. the leverage is going to shift to our side. hopefully we'll do the same thing we did last time, and that is if the president wants to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion, we get $2 trillion in spending reductions. >> okay. so there seems to be the beginning of an abandonment about the push against raising the top rates and a reliance on the debt ceiling to leverage entitlement reform cuts. >> so you have had this whole
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grand bargain theory about how this is going to go. the two parties are going to page a big deal between the election and the new year, and i think the theory is totally wrong. the reason is it requires boehner to accede to or cooperate in giving obama the revenue from the expiration of the bush tax cuts. that makes him complicity in the eyes of the base, and they're going to fire him from his job if he does that, in all likelihood. >> do you really think that he will get fired if he lets those tax cuts expire? >> it's at best 50-50 he keeps his job, if he cooperates in making that bargain. the best thing for boehner is for that to happen without his cooperation, without his active cooperation. it's got to happen without him. then they can go ahead and get the rest of the revenue without raising tax rates. then the tax rates will go back to the clinton levels. the rest of it will happen automatically, and, you know, the republicans are trying to do this complicated scenario where they vote present. if they don't vote and the democrats vote, it's this ritual where the dmgz do all the voting, and the republicans kind of stand by, and i think they're right to do that, because then you've got a trillion of revenue
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automatically locked in. then, you know, obama is asking for another $600 billion, and will he probably settle for less. that trade gets very easy to make, so this idea that they need to do it all at once, i think, is totally mistaken. >> don't you think that the president has been very firm about not making a deal unless the debt ceiling negotiations are included in the package, and to me that says i'm ready to play on entitlement because there's no way he is going to get anything from them unless he makes -- he plays on social security and medicare. >> they may know -- he may be are ready to play. they may know he is ready to play, but they don't want to play their hand first. they want him to make an offer. you know, there's a carlton plan, but it's a chaif plan, which boehner can't be backed in a corner and give in because of his own party. he is stuck. there the stupid party too, by the way, michael, if they think that this debt ceiling thing is really going to help them come back in the minds of americans. >> another level of pain. >> just another level of pain. >> he does nothing, and the rates go up on the wealthy, and
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then boehner could be seen somewhere in the back room take them down from 39.68 to 37.something. >> that could be a win for boehner. >> then it looks like a win for boehner. that's -- i see that as his way not to lose his job and not to have all those republicans who, by the way, really don't like him being in the room alone. he becomes, you know, more of a collaborationist in that room alone with obama. >> they would prefer certain members of the republican party would like to see these televised, these negotiations televised on c-span. john boehner has said i don't want any of the congressional leadership. it's me and you. >> seconds and thirds in there have cantor in there and mccarthy in there, some other people. >> i'm sure cantor would like to be in there. >> yes. >> michael steele, the other thing -- the other sort of pieces of leverage here, if they exist for the republican party, are continuing unemployment insurance. 2.1 million long-term unemployed americans will lose benefits at the end much the year.
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another million will lose benefits in the next three months if we do nothing. the republicans have sort of said we're going to hold this stuff. i'm not going to use the word hostage. we're going to keep this in our quiver until it's time. >> he used the word, what, last year. >> but it is another set of dollars that need to be spent in the conversation about spending, and i think a lot of republicans' frustration with the administration is that they haven't really gotten down, you've touched on entitlements a little bit, but they haven't gotten down to the nitty gritty of all the other stuff that we're currently spending money on that we keep reupping to spend money on. that's not helping the cause. so, yeah, this is something that's going to be put on the table along with the deficit increase and the debt limit, and so, yeah, i think boehner and others have that -- those cards that they can play. the problem is you've got right in front of you the more immediate concerns before you even get to the discussion about unemployment and insurance and the cost of those programs, the
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money that currently goes on-line or comes own line in terms of fiscal cliff spending and revenue raised in the next three weeks, and, yes, that's at the end of the month. they'll get through that, but, again, you want to have leverage when you have that conversation. that leverage is going to, i think, hinge off of what you were saying, and i think you're right. boehner has probably the better hand to play here given that really there's not a strong hand, but it's a better hand than what he otherwise would have in terms of negotiations. if he is just allowed get in the room and negotiate the deal because he knows he has all these other, you know, arrows in his quiver that he can use. >> i just -- i think it's hopeful that they went -- that he went to the white house yesterday and almost kind of hopeful that at least everybody is agreeing not to say anything, as opposed to leaking bad news. really quickly, jonathan, the president is going to michigan, and he will be -- well, he is there en route now. the right to work law in michigan could be signed as early, i believe, finalized as early as tomorrow. what is the president owe labor
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unions at this point? you know, off the election, off of a win in michigan? how hard does he need to push this? >> i don't think he -- he is thinking he owes them a ton, but this is an threat to labor. this is a violent attack on the right to organize. it's much more radical than what was attempted in wisconsin or ohio. labor is flipping out, understandably so, and i think they're trying to stop snyder who may have wandered into a fight that is more extreme than he ever intended to. >> obama ultimately does -- i mean, if this is an easy way to keep your base close, he needs his base close if is he going to cut some sort of deal that are going to be unhappy with some part of ultimately. >> and also, if is he going to be continuing this campaign style strategy of taking his priorities out to the american public using grass rights networks to get support for them, whether that's immigration reform or maybe energy reform. he has to keep some out of the progressive network intact. the election and recent polling
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shows that the tide of public opinion is turning on marriage equality. something assistant democratic leader dick durbin articulated yesterday. >> marriage equality is part of america's future, and we saw that in state after state in the last election. the supreme court will take up the issue, and i hope that they understand as most of us do that this is part of our future. marriage equality and the equal treatment of people who have made this decision is part of what america is all about. >> will the supreme court seize the momentum? we will look at the high court's upcoming decision on same-sex marriage. that's next on "now." [ female announcer ] born from the sweet monk fruit, something this delicious could only come from nature. new nectresse. the 100% natural no-calorie sweetener made from the goodness of fruit. new nectresse. sweetness naturally.
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new nectresse. oh, let me guess --ou see this? more washington gridlock. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double. but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save. well, the president and congress have got to work together to stop this dividend tax hike. before it's too late.
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with respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, i have spoken about this recently, as i
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have said. my feelings about this are constantly evolving. i struggle with this. >> that was president obama in 2010. his evolution has progressed rapidly in less than two years. >> at a certain point i've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that i think same-sex couples should be able it get married, and i continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level because historically this has not been a federal issue. >> soon the supreme court may go one step further and decide if the constitution permits same-sex marriage in every state across the country. on friday the nation's highest court announced it would take up two cases challenging laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman. the first seeks to strike down the federal government's defense of marriage act, known as doma. the second involves a challenge to california's proposition 8, a voter-approved ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage.
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a federal appeals court struck down the law earlier this year. the court's decision to weigh in on marriage equality came as same-sex couples began marrying in washington state yesterday. on election day voters there and in maryland and in maine made history when they became the first states to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box. joining us now to discuss is steve, chair of the gay and lesbian victory fund. great to have you. >> nice to be here, alex. s. >> so a lot of tea leaf read and arm chair prognostication around this. i am by no means a supreme court expert, but when i saw that they were taking up both doma and prop 8, question as to whether they would take up inform i them at all, it seemed to me a signal that the court was ready to make a big decision, and i just cannot imagine, especially when you have conservatives like john roberts, who maybe sort of a fiscal conservative and vote in support of something like citizens united, but socially does not seem to be as conservative as, say, scalia.
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that they would be looking at the ark of history and say they are ready to make this law of the land. your intripgs now three days after they announced? are you feeling bullish or bearish? i asked you this on friday. i ask again. >> i'll bullish. i think the court wants to get in front of history and behind it. it is so clear where the country is moving. there is a poll this morning that showed 25% of the country has changed their opinion on this subject in the last three years. so it's just -- and, you know, as younger people are increasingly for gay marriage and i just think it's only a matter of time before we're going to be there, and i don't think the court wants to look like they're chasing behind the country. >> you know, it's really interesting. the "new york times" has an analysis of how other sort of controversial messages matters were bandied about the american public, what kind of support there was for things like interracial marriage or segregated school systems. the a.p. finds in 1954 17 states had segregated school systems when brown verz the board of education was decided. in 1967 16 states waned
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interracial marriages. when roe v. wade was decided abortion was legal in only four states. you look at the numbers on gay marriage. 1996 compared to today. in 1996 27% of the country thought gay marriage should be valid. by 2012 it's 50%. as someone who works closely on this issue, what do we owe that almost sea change in public opinion to? >> i think a big -- the recent sea change, i think a lot we owe to president obama, his leadership. i think he particularly, the african-american community, i think his speaking out on this has made a big deal. the other thing i think that's made a big deal is the visibility of gay and lesbian people. the more -- the court is not immune to that. the more people meet gay people as their clerk oorz family members or their friends or neighbors, the more they realize that this notion that they shouldn't be able to get married, which is a deeply conservative institution, the idea that two people can't love each other and get -- be in a stable relationship, which is family values, it's ridiculous. that's why we have people like
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ted olson who is, you know, a very conservative ronald reagan solicitor general who is leading the charge on this. >> hollywood. i think hollywood has had a lot to do with this change. i wrote a piece about this in the summer for "new york magazine." hollywood, you know, admitting that hollywood is liberal on most things, and especially social issues. hollywood has basically taken a deliberate campaign to transform public opinion starting really in the early 1980s, but really picking up steam about 20 years ago to transform the way people thought about gays and lesbians and successfully. now, i think conservatives could look at this with some hysteria, and i kind of understand where they're coming from now. i think it's a saluatory change, but popular culture has deliberately changed the way people approach these issues. >> michael, you know, there is a lot of talk about how the republican party deals with the issue of gay marriage, and i think a lot of conservatives think of this as something that is 23u7bd mentally right with conservative values.
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why should the government intrude on a rirp between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, a woman and a man. certainly there will be soul searching within the party to determine where do we stand on this issue, especially given where the american public is at? what do you think it does? if the supreme court does, let's say, strike down prop 8 and doma, where does the republican party go from there in terms of the argument around gay marriage? is it neutralized? >> i don't know if it's neutralized. i think that's going to be some of the unchartered territory for the party to have to deal with, among other areas of unchartered territory. >> there's a lot of unchartered water. >> yeah. look, the culturally i think you're absolutely right. the country has moved on this issue. i say even within the party there's much more to use the word tolerance within the gop than a lot of people like to project. log cabin republicans are an ancient institution within the gop, have been around for a long, long time. i know i have worked with them going back to my days back as a
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young county chairman and very effectively so. they've been an effective voice within the party. >> young republicans i feel like where. >> that's the key thing. young republicans today have an attitude that's more reflective of the country as a whole. that is, very libertarian. live and let live. i don't want you to dictate to me the temz in which i engage in a relationship. certainly don't want the government to do that. so i think that that has really contributed within the party towards this movement. someone like an an dry brightbar was very vocal on this area, very supportive of gay and lesbian republicans, transgender republicans, bisexual republicans, so there's a growing network within the party of folks that recognize culturally where we are and that has very little to do with our politics. >> but the libertarian wing is barely even a wing of the conservative party. i mean -- >> it's not a libertarian wing.
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it's an attitude. it's the attitude. it's the core attitude. >> they are much more -- are much more wanting to regulate these things, and, you know, the will and grace and the dick cheney are huge -- have had a huge impact on how we look at gay marriage, and, you know, dick durbin was satisfying the future is marriage equality, and i think the future has really galloped along. i mean, it's amazing how far we've come. >> the future is here. >> yeah. >> the future is now. >> yeah. >> it's whenever the supreme court takes up the case. >> i guess really quickly before we go, steve, does this put the president -- does he -- is he put in a tough spot with this? he has effectively tossed this back to the states, and now that the system is getting involved, there is -- the question as to what the white house's position on a sort of federal mandate regarding civil unions versus gay marriage. >> i think they'll ob the spot whether they file a brief, and i would hope they would because it's, again, the future is here, and he needs to get with the future.
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>> if he can't, maybe he could do enlist joe biden to go and sort of say it at an opportune time. >> he has shown great leader 14i7 on this issue, and i'm confident he will continue. >> not taking the opportunity to bash the president. i'm sure he appreciates it. thank you for your time, as always. >> sure. zirjts coming up, boxing legend receives some prefight words of wisdom from the great philosopher mitt romney. we will take a look at the romney's big night in vegas just ahead. >> she created mother-in-law kim chi. she's using nonethnic packaging to peel to a mass market, and it's now carried in whole foods and fresh markets. for more watch your business this sunday morning at 7:30 on msnbc. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics...
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>> we need to seize the moment. shoo assume aing deal is reached on the fiscal cliff/curve, all eye wills turn to the next big ticket on obama's agenda -- immigration reform. starting in january the l.a. times reports the white house will begin an all-out drive for an immigration bill that will include a path to citizenship for the 11.1 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. the bill would also seek stronger border security measures, penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and would make it easier to bring in skilled foreign workers under special visas. in the interests of basic self-preservation, many republicans are also clambering for reform following their drubbing in the recent election when mitt's self-deportation
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policy lost the latino vote by a whopping 44 points. quote "there is a growing sense that this is an opportunity that should be taken, said ed jill esspi, a former republican national can i chairman. "there's no instinct like a survival instinct." for those thinking immigration reform will be a bipartisan community effort, think again. while many top republicans see a drastic need for change, many rank-and-file lawmakers remain skeptical. skeptical, indeed. politico writes regardless of exit polls, demographic trends and lectures from party leaders, lawmakers know that many voters, especially primary voters, and especially their primary voters, hate anything that smacks of amnesty. with a supreme court ruling on gay marriage in the summer and immigration teed up on the agenda, obama's second term has the potential to be historic in nature. then again, it could look like fiscal cliff part two. washington is washington, after all.
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telemundo jose diaz bullart lends his intelligence and wit to an increasingy horny topic. jose, it's wonderful to see you, as always. >> thank you, alex. what a pleasure. pleasure to see you. you know, it's interesting, alex. the folks that love -- i'm sorry. go ahead. >> oh, i was just going to say there has been this sense that everyone was going to settle under a rainbow and sit at the pot of gold and come up with comprehensive immigration reform, but now we are starting to see some fractures, some discussion that certain elements of the republican party are not going to be okay with a comprehensive immigration reform package. where do you stand on this? do you think that -- >> it's interesting. do think the process helped the gop among latino voters? >> no. no. it's interesting, alex, because the same people that love a tax amnesty hate apparently citizenship possibilities for 11 million people that have been here for many years.
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many of them have children and grandchildren born in this country, have contributed -- continued contributing to this economy, and giving them the opportunity to get in the back of the line for possible citizenship down the line, that's considered amnesty, but aattack amnesty, let's talk about that and celebrate. let's remove amnesty for a bit from the discussion, because it will never be amnesty. you're not going to have a blanket one day to the next situation where 11 million people will all of a sudden get their citizenship papers in the mail. it's not that way. the options are, two, do you just ignore 11 million people that have contributed and continue contributing to this economy and to the culture of this country, or do you deal with it in a rationale way? that means the extremes on both sides of the issue need to be mitigated somehow. on the left you have people who say absolutely no way that these people can get any kind of, you know, positive future for them because they'll never join a
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union. on the other side, you have people who say under no circumstances should these people be granted anything that has to do with the possibility of coming out from under the shadows and living a life where they've already been here. they're not going anywhere. they can't self-deport. >> thank you for -- the self- -- i feel like the self-deportation argument has maybe been effectively neutralized by romney's candidacy. frankly, politico is writing political -- a conservative gop lawmaker who insisted on anonymity as so many gop lawmakers do. they are afraid hispanics hate republicans so, they want more of them. it doesn't pass the laugh test. this is an important issue with the republican base, and members are right to be worried about getting primaries. >> therein lies the pickle. the party understands that they have this problem with latino vote, that they should do something that whoos them by
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exceeding to some sort of immigration reform, but they don't want to go the full monty. you see this even among republican elites. in the same politico article you have karl rove and others quoted saying we need to do something on immigration. we should do partial measures. we shouldn't go all the way to amnesty, and i think that they're reacting to a lot of blowback that they've gotten from their base as they've talked about the need to go out and make immigration reform something that they just set off the table. >> that quote is factually wrong. what this person thinks is if we have immigration reform, then you'll have more latinos who can vote. maybe you're changing the time frame, but the fact is because of the 14th amendment, anyone who is born in the united states legally or illegally is a legal citizen. you can vote. you can't stop these people from voting. they're just wrong. >> that's 50,000 hispanics turn 18 years old every month, period. that should be the only thing that is in front of the gop
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right now. all of this hem and hawing about what we're going to do on immigration, to me, is not the argument that we should be having. i think ed gillespie makes a good point about the strategy. >> michael. >> but having a smart strategy is more important. >> jose, take it away. >> just wanted to add. 50,000 young latinos turn every month 18 years of age, born in the united states. >> in the u.s. >> in the united states of america. just wanted to add that. >> yes. >> that's right. there's a difference there. >> but, jose, let me ask you since you are in miami and marco rubio has been -- he is presumed to be almost the voice of the gop on immigration concerns, and there is talk of a gang of eight that is getting together on the hill to tackle immigration that includes four democrats, bennett durbin, four members of the gop flake, grant, mccain, and leaf. marco rubio is not in that mix, and he is said to be working on sort of smaller pieces of immigration legislation, but not
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something bigger. we contacted his office saying, you know, why is senator rubio not in the mix on the gang of eight here, and the response is we won't prejudge their efforts, but senator rubio has said that he believes immigration reform should not be handled in one big comprehensive bill, but instead be done in a comprehensive series of bills. we're working with republican and democratic colleagues in both the house and senate on those pieces of legislation. >> yeah. i don't know what all those words mean really. i just have no idea what they're trying to say there, but i'll tell you this, maybe, maybe, we should be looking at the house, and all fairness, leaves me to say that there are a handful of republicans in the house that have been meeting with democrats in the house for many, many months and they do so regularly, and they're not getting the headlines that maybe the senate and those group of eight would like to get. they're working slowly methodically to try and see if there's anything that they can accomplish in a bipartisan form
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that can be brought to the house for a vote. now, here is where the president's leadership is so fundamental. in the past some sources of mine have told me that the -- when the republicans trying to work on immigration called the white house for assistance, they didn't get an answer from the white house. that has changed after november. the white house has been proactively speaking to these legislators and saying how can we help? elections have consequences for both sides of the aisle. the president is very aware that he has a responsibility to now go to bat on immigration reform and it seems to be that in the house it's a small step. small private steps are being taken not by the people who put out press releases that don't really say much, but have lovely words to them. they're actually working on it. let's see. piecemeal, i think, will never work. >> margaret. >> i -- i think senator rubio's heart is pure on this, and i think he sees a great big huge
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bill trying to move it is harder than getting pieces that you can get coalitions on and get something through. you know, on the vote on that 44 point difference, you know, if republicans started speaking to latinos with some respect and not with words like self-deportation and let's fix -- let's close the fence as mccain did. they would be able to hear other parts of the republican message. you can't be sure that all of them are going to -- that they're not all going to be democrats one they're here in & here legal. >> this is not a monolithic voting block. >> unfortunately, unfortunately, there's always too much to talk to you about, jose. we have to leave it there, my friend. the good thing is that this conversation isn't going anywhere. thank you for your time, as always. after the break, progress or relapse? egypt's president shifts gears on his recent power grab while the u.s. nav gates the pros and cons of aiding rebels in syria. we will talk interests and
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we've got a lotta empty cans. [ male announcer ] hear from our chefs on facebook this friday! zeerchlgt as one hand giveth, another taketh away. egyptian president mohammed morsi backed off a decree giving him authority. he order aid new order giving military power to arrest sls while a new constitution is finalized and voted on this saturday. former president hosni mubarak issued a similar decree before he lost power declaring emergency law in egypt. meanwhile, the national salvation front, the secular liberal opposition, is considering a boycott of the charter vote and is calling for protests in advancing the vote this weekend. joining us now from cairo is nbc news foreign correspondent amman. thank you for joining us. my first question is just about the motivations, morsi's motive augustss here. initially when this sort of
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power grab, if you will -- we'll call it that -- began, there was some sense and some analysis that this was an effort to -- an effort at efficiency, to get things down and that the democratic process would be restored. that seems increasingly less the case. this seems like a consolidation of power. what is your read on the situation? >> well, i think it's very important to depending on who you ask you get a different read. if you start with the president's camp, and that is president morsi backed by the hardline islamist groups, politicians, including the muslim brotherhood freedom and justice party, they are advocating to go ahead with this referendum on time because of several reasons. they say this will chart a transition to democracy. it will prop up back the institutions of the state that had all but collapsed after the revolution. they want to see this go ahead as scheduled, but as you mention, there's the other side. the national salvation front, which is a grouping of several secular and liberal opposition groups. they are saying this constitution falls short of international standards. it does not represent all of egyptians, and more importantly, it will pave the way for an
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islamist takeover of the government that will essentially cut off the rights of minorities, women, and other political forces that may not be islamists. it's a really polarized time in the country, and that's why it is so charged very, very dangerous. as you mentioned, the military now has been given authority to maintain and preserve security. essentially they've been given the authority to function like a police force up until the time of the referendum, which is next saturday. the underlying question in all of this, though, is whether or not logistically this constitutional referendum can take place. the judges, which are plenty to supervise the ballot box and the polling stations, some of them are boycotting. you have diplomats at embassies around the world saying they will not supervise the ex-pat yoit voting that's scheduled to start on wednesday. the country is extremely divided, very much polarized, and egypt is facing a constitutional cliffhanger scheduled for next as a result. >> cliffhangers abound. frankly, we've talked about the role of the united states overseas and especially in the arab world where things have changed dramatically. david ignasius writing
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skeptically in the washington post. "how did washington become the best friend of the muslim brotherhood in eypsilanti, even as president mohammed morsi was asserting dictatorial powers and were beating up secular liberals in the streets of cairo. america will help the arab world through this turmoil if it states clearly that u.s. policy is guided by its interests and values, not by transient alliances and friendship." not exactly a ringing endorsement. >> there is a tremendous amount of leverage over the egyptian regime chshgs we exerted in helping to eject hosni mubarak during the arab spring, and we maintained that leverage. i think if you look at morsi and his biography and his portrait, he is an islamist. he was raised in the muslim brotherhood. he rose to the ranks through the muslim brotherhood, and his intentions for egypt are islamist, and that's evident in the way that they've written the constitution, but he is also showing a pragmatic streak, and he has shown it time and again. when the united states asked him
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to intervene and try to negotiate a peace in gaza, he responded. he was a good player in that. i think we're making a mistake. i i'm sure we're sending him some quiet messages, but i think we may need to be much louder and more forceful to get him to change directions because this constitution really does set the country on a bad path. >> because if we're talking about -- purely for the u.s., if this is our guy and he pushes this through amid boycotts and protests, the disenfranchisement of minorities, it is not good for the united states. >> it up ends everything which the arab string was all about, which is why you have divisions within the country right now. to your point about the pragmatic side, yes, that's the illusion that's created to get the islamist agenda done because then you take away -- it's almost like a bait and swimp, a distraction in a sense that i can be praying math mattic. >> i think the question is we
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don't really know who this guy is. he has shown us some signs of praying mattism and signs of being a hard liner, and this is really the ultimate test to that. >> ayman, before we go, how do egyptians feel about america intervening in their domestic affairs? as we look at whatsoever the role the president played with the ouster of hosni mubarak, would they be comfortable with americans taking a more vocal role in terms of managing or weighing in on morsi? >> well, there's been substantial polling done about egyptian attitudes towards the united states by several credible international polling organizations, including gallop and others. many of them have cited that the overwhelming majority of egyptians reject any type of american interference in domestic ejust a minutian politics or affairs. they have said that over the past 30 years. the united states has lent a hand to the dictatorship that was propped up here. they want to see america stay out of domestic affairs. in some of the recent comments that have come out of some of the more secular oppositions,
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including mohammed elbaradei, they want the united states to use their lerchlg on shaping poefs, including the constitution. alex. >> it is certainly a fluid situation. thank you, as always, for the update. we will be coming back to you for much more later. coming up, talk about unintended foreshadowing? mitt romney inspires boxing champ manny pacquiao as only manager can. we'll discuss manager's lost vegas weekend. but now, with zyrtec-d®, i have the proven allergy relief of zyrtec®, plus a powerful decongestant. zyrtec-d® lets me breath freer, so i can love the air. [ male announcer ] zyrtec-d®. behind the pharmacy counter. no prescription needed.
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time for what's now? after being bloodied in the political ring just last month mitt romney showed up ringside at what turned out to be another knockout fight. the pacquiao-marquez saturday night brawl at the mgm grand. romney did not miss an opportunity to throw a few jabs at himself. according to pacquiao's publicist, romney introduced himself to boxer before the fight saying, hello, manny. i ran for president. i lost.
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frank -- >> get psyched, everyone. he showed him tattoos he has. >> you do have to think, this is his re-entry, sort of, on to the american stage. michael steele, it sounds line you're going to give the dude a pass. >> i give the brother a pass. you get your clock cleaned the way he did, and then to watch manny get his cleaned. this is a long evening all around. >> this is a dude who was funded disproportionately by the casinos and casino magnets, and he was there at the invitation of the casino magnate. >> he is on the board of the marriott. maybe will he go on the board of the mgm grand which held the fight. watching another knockout might have made him feel not so bad about his own. >> i guess so. what a lead-in, though, right? hi. i lost. >> we'll see where it takes him. >> i ran for president. i lost. >> it's endearing. >> it is. thank you, my friends. thank you all.
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that is all for now. i will see you back here again tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific when i'm joined by the "new york times" politico's -- until then, be sure to check out our own "now" boxing photos. i don't know what those are. at facebook.com/now with alex. an dree mitchell reports is coming up next. >> thanks, alex. let's make a deal. the white house says today it can happen. what went on in the secret talks this weekend with speaker boehner? we assume it did not follow the "snl" script, but we'll ask white house chief of staff bill daley. a navy seal loses his life as rebels cry out for help against a possible chemical weapons threat. it's all covered with general barry mcafterry. the latest on susan rice with michael oh hammond and mallalla is honored on human rights day. that's all coming up next on "an
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dree mitchell reports.
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